Friday, 21 August 2009

Quality advertising and marketing

It's been a while since I ranted about advertising and marketing (or anything else, but those are among my favourite rant topics).

I just saw this piece of quality work today:

[Name of publication] enjoys an influential and affluent readership and seeks to maintain that profile by those brands it represents.

If you would like to know more about our rates and availability, please feel free to make an enquiry our team we will do thier best to assist your in achieving your campaign goals.

Sign me up.

And on marketing, I've noticed a few annoyances lately.

First was Healtheries' decision to stop decaffeinating their green tea. Their website still assured consumers that all Healtheries green tea was caffeine free, but this was no longer the case if you checked the label in the shop. When I emailed them about it, I got an informative reply, very quickly, from a real human being (not a marketing droid) who explained:

The reasons we have moved away from decaffeination are:

1) Being a health food company we were keen to produce a product as
close to un-processed as possible, the decaffeination process adds
additional processing and uses chemicals to strip out the caffeine

2) The cost to decaffeinate the tea is quite substantial, by removing
this cost we have been able to pass this on to our consumers making us
more competitively priced

3) A side effect of removing caffeine is that this can also remove some
of the antioxidants in the tea, we wanted to maximize the antioxidants
naturally found in green tea.

If you would like to remove the caffeine, research has shown us that if
you brew a tea bag for approx 2 mins and throw out the first cup of tea
the second cup you brew with the same tea bag will have over 80% of the
caffeine removed (as caffeine is the first thing released out of the tea

All of which is well and fine, but nobody else in the NZ market decaffeinates their green tea either, so the consumer is left without choice (and Healtheries have removed what was, to many people including me, an important point of difference). The brewing for two minutes thing didn't work for me, I noticed a bitter taste and was getting edgy on it. I've now switched over to (non-Healtheries) rooibos tea instead, which is supposed to have, if anything, even more antioxidants, which is regarded as a good thing.

I now discover, searching Healtheries' site, that their chai teas are decaf - when did that happen? I could swear I'd checked the packets and they weren't.

Not bad marketing, as such, but their business decision is odd (and inconvenient) to me from an overall market perspective, and their consumer communication could use some work. Good marks for their response to me, but as far as I can tell they didn't follow my suggestion to put the explanation on their website (it's not in their FAQ). I had to check the new packets to find out they weren't decaffeinated any more, and I completely missed the fact that the chai, which is my favourite, is decaf (perhaps it wasn't to start with and now is?).

On the other hand, some companies still practice the good old "marketing through outright lies" approach. I had a minor example in the supermarket recently. A woman was there with one of those little demo tables they use for new foods, demonstrating a new breed of apple next to the fruit section. I'm always up for some new fruit (fruit is my treat, instead of sweets or chocolate), so even though she had only one rather browning segment of apple on offer I gave it a try. "It's really sweet and juicy," she told me. Well, it wasn't particularly, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt because it had obviously been sitting for a while, and bought a couple.

In fact, this is one of the least sweet and least juicy breeds of apple I have ever encountered. I wish I could remember its name so I could warn you off it. It has yellow skin, anyhow, and its marketers lie about it.

And then there's the iCON fan. We have one of these. In fact, we've had three, because the first two burned out. They were the size recommended for a bathroom, which is where we have it, but they were clearly underpowered, so last time I got the larger one.

They're supposed to be quiet. They're not. They're very noisy, in my opinion. They're also advertised as "surprisingly low cost". What with the cost of the fan, the cost of the initial installation (in a house which is a little tricky, admittedly), and the cost of having the first two removed and replaced when they failed, I have spent well in excess of $1000. Still, at last we have a fan that removes the damp from the bathroom, which I suppose is something.

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